By Santiago A. Cueto

international kidnapping, kidnap risk, avoid kidnapping

A special guest post by Global Security Consultant and Political Risk ExpertPaul Crespo

This is the second in a series of posts dealing with global security and political risk management. Today’s post focuses on international kidnapping.

Know the Kidnapping Risks.

Getting kidnapped while traveling internationally is a real and present danger. Kidnap for ransom, versus kidnapping for political goals, is a fast-growing worldwide industry. The majority of these kidnappings are purely for financial gain.

They are sadly seen simply as business transactions. Countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are obvious high-risk locations for kidnappings. There is however an ever growing kidnap risk to business executives traveling to countries such as Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ecuador and Brazil.

Latin America remains one the most dangerous places for kidnapping, with Mexico being the highest kidnap threat. The number of kidnappings there has exploded in recent years due to the drug wars. Statistics on kidnappings are hard to confirm because the majority go unreported, but estimates range from 5,000 to over 10,000 kidnappings per year.

Venezuela has become the second riskiest country for kidnappings, with over 2,000 recorded kidnappings in 2011, and growing at an alarming rate.

Meanwhile Brazil has become a key country for ‘express kidnapping’ where victims are held at gun point or carjacked – usually just before midnight – and forced to withdraw their daily allowance over two days from an ATM. These express kidnappings are also becoming increasingly violent, with beatings and rape more prevalent.

 How to Prepare and Avoid Kidnapping

Two of the best tools to lessen your chances of getting kidnapped, or surviving a kidnapping if it occurs, is Kidnap & Ransom (K&R) insurance and preventive employee security training. Both should be considered as a part of every at-risk organization’s risk-management arsenal.

Professional employee security training is the key to prevention, while individuals with K&R insurance are four times more likely to survive a kidnapping if prevention fails, than non-insured travelers.

K&R insurance is valuable because it typically includes provisions for providing professional security consultants for preventive training, and if prevention fails, provide kidnap negotiators and covers ransom and extortion payments, theft of ransom money, death of victims during attempted rescue, transportation costs, payments to informants, etc., when a kidnapping occurs.

Whether or not you have insurance or training, the following are important factors to keep in mind and measures to take to avoid kidnapping: